Overwhelming, the number of letters Your soul can handle, Before it all comes crashing done. Twelve letters, rolled off the tongue, Held in abeyance only by the off switch. How? Why? And the answers pull me Into a world I do not know. Positions on humanity that spout And sputter into being based On a nameless fear of something... Political parties spare for the news Broadcasting a descent from known facts Until even the broadcasters must turn away. Limits on being human, kind, mindful, Actions based on color, mindset, empty empathy. "Don't let them in." No, not out either, For a four year old refugee might Play games of war as youth becomes teen. It's a ridiculous argument, Holding that a sixty-five year old... Change all that was good, helpful, given As a gift from government. Make it void of Color or charm and let me scream My frustration at the overwhelming hatred Of bigots, fanatics, tv viewers... They sing a song of hatred, without A single why. One hundred thousand visas, Cancelling hope. Banks cheering, burdens given, Regulations falling, Morality redefined Millions of mothers standing, fist raised to the morn. Overwhelming, twelve letters becoming twenty-four. Discourse to hold off the helplessness Of being Disabled, a woman, unable, wished able, To make the world step back into sanity. Not the globe, My world, my resolve, my liberty. You threaten me at your peril, for I think. I write. I protest and resolve. I turn, I hide nothing, I am...and being I must Prevent this overwhelming sense of doom. Overwhelmed as we rise, surrounded by void. By Twelve letters that roll off the tongue. Easy letters. Ts and Ls, Es, O, a G. Government stating that there are none of the above. Twelve letters that hold us back. W, V, R, H, M Twelve letters to define the abject despair, Actively adding the ing to the pile We face now, with limits on rights, hopes, dreams, loves, friends, health, Overwhelming. And continuing...
A week or so ago, I read a WordPress site that made me incredibly sad. Indeed, it left me speechless. Syria is not going well for the so-called rebels, and it is even harder on the civilians who are caught between the government, their personal hopes, and those who are brave enough to speak out against the government of Syria. The writer had moved with her family to the United States after World War II. She was despairing of the lack of moral fortitude that allowed the Syrian people to leave their homeland and to seek a safer place to live. She wanted to know how people who supposedly wanted change to come to Syria could leave that battle and run to Europe, Canada, and the United States. Her grandparents had stayed in France to fight in the resistance against the Nazis. Were these people really expecting the world to accept refuges who wouldn’t fight for what they believed?
She went on for a long time, speaking of her moral superiority over these victims. My take was that after World War II the conditions weren’t good in France. Supplies were in short supply, and to provide a better living situation for their descendants, her grandparents moved to the U.S.
Aleppo this week has showed more reasons for leaving Syria. Innocents shot dead by the Army as they summarily moved into the west side of the city. Male, female, old, young, it didn’t seem to matter to the government forces. They were summarily executed. In a conflict of this nature, the world failed these people. The UN did not muster a protecting force. The Russians targeted schools, mosques, and medical facility. The Syrian government was more concerned with their propaganda showing Aleppo as a place for tourists to visit, than in working with and achieving a resolution to the problems that brought the revolt in the first place.
Donald Trump has said he could look into the eyes of a child from Syria and tell her or him that they had no right to come to us as immigrants. He’s notorious for making statements of intolerance towards others. I’ve also read accounts of people who claim religion, Christianity, and yet don’t understand that most basic cornerstone of the call for charity, generosity, and humanity. The old “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” apparently strikes no sympathy in their hearts. We have a tall lady in the New York harbor that stands bearing witness to the fact that all of us came from somewhere. Even the first nations know that their ancestors came from somewhere other than our continent.
We have so much as a nation and so many opportunities, is it possible that we can’t share a little of our prosperity and safety with others? Immigrants become some of our best citizens if we let them live and participate in our government. They take the worst jobs and make the best of them, providing their children with educations which enable them to become better citizens.
Make no mistake, I hold that same opinion about those refugees who come from the Americas too. I feel that we have a heart that needs tending, and if we shut the doors based on race, we have worked against our own standard as the greatest nation currently in the world. We who have much, have a responsibility to act as though others matter. It’s Christmas, and we should keep that in mind as we change our government.
I used the F word on another WordPress account. There is no excuse, I lost my temper. You see, I assume things about people: that they are logical, have a grasp of life, have been in the world for a bit. I should know better. I tend to become attached to people, to care what they think. Like I say, I assume.
I couldn’t be more wrong. The column is written by someone who also has MS. He’s a blogger and a blog linker. He keeps one foot in the golfing door. I assume he has money. He never talks about needing anything, although most of us with MS do have needs. Most of us won’t admit that publicly.
So, why did I use the F word? Because with no knowledge of what young adults go through, he dismissed them all as whiny little babies that should take their ball and go home. He mocked them as participation trophy winners who had better understand that life was about more than participation and they should get on with their lives. Yup, that was the trigger. Protesting against what happened in the election, the issues that they are terrified of, the using our Bill of Rights, our millennials are involved and passionate about their issues. I care about that. It’s part of being a Patriot.
I could give him the short list of my background, but I’m not sure he wants that conversation. So rather than try to be glorified by me, let me stick to the young ones and why I care about them.
When something happens in someone’s life, it could be death, illness, a lack of the basics for survival, you act on what you believe. You act on what you have learned. You act on the compassion you have learned. You act on hard, cold facts that stare at you in your cup of coffee. The people who helped you learn and grow believe that you can face anything together. They watch from the sidelines after their influence time has waned, and they care. My students rallied around me when the MS hit, making sure I had contact with their worlds still. I care about them, all of them. I even care about the one student I could never win over to being a participant. They have many years to grow in yet.
Teachers get nine months with your children. We make mistakes, but we believe in your young people and we never forget them. We watch them learn honesty, learn to donate time to important issues, to protect their brothers and sisters in humanity, to take on issues head first, to fall down, to get back up but to always participate. We love our students. Some teachers showing it through gentle lessons, some teachers by being brutal, but honest, teaching that facing an issue is just the beginning.
I did all the volunteer things as a mom and teacher. Daisy Scouts and Brownies for my daughter, Tiger, Cub, and Boy Scouts for my son. I did Grad night for three years, before the serious onset of my MS. I held after school clubs that were varied and based on population needs. Let’s see: a Magic the Gathering Club in three different schools, Yearbook, Literary magazine, Shakespeare club, Theater, a pre-finals Finger Nail polishing/snack eating study relaxation club for women in high school who were test phobic, a Belly Dance Club, a gardening club. I volunteered at Leesylvania State Park, charging nothing for my time, but reading to preschoolers, working for the Breast Cancer Walk, providing raffle gifts of framed photography, teaching painting on driftwood, cleaning the Visitor Center, joined Friends of Leesylvania to help where help was needed, was on the crew to work for CAST (for children who were taken fishing by a “Captain” on a one to one relationship), decorated for park functions, played in the Haunted History Hike opposite a 15 year old “husband” from the Fairfax family (creepy in a way), taught embroidery and cross stitching, taught a geography club, a stamp club, created a school post office and taught kids to run it. I did a lot more. Why? Because that participation trophy helped everyone. I got to meet and work with some great kids, great young adults who were taking their place in the world. I believe in our Millennials. That’s why I got angry.
I hold people who have gone through difficulties to a high standard of emotional intelligence. This man stated that he didn’t care enough about the election to vote for a difference. That’s cool. I didn’t vote for Trump or Johnson, thinking instead that issues were more important than flailing away at the dark. I understand where the young are coming from, as I am a child of the 60s. Human rights have been on my target for 55 of my almost 59 years. My parents made sure that I understood the difference between right and wrong, helping and hurting, motivation and laziness. They never gave false praise and if you did get some, there was always a caveat on the fact you could still do better. You can ask my mother if you like. She reads my writing now too.
We learned to share. When a Cambodian family came to the US and the father started working at Bachman’s Nursery, my family gave them clothing, toys, a grocery bag of food, furniture which my parents reupholstered to look brand new, and friendship. There was a Lesbian couple that my parents advocated for, believing that the right to be who you are should never be a matter of debate. There was a community center where my parents volunteered and helped make a success. We did paper drives, shoveled snow for our elders, mowed lawns and raked leaves, started gardens with our neighbors, and always, participation was a requirement to be part of society.
I learned to protest unfairnesses in Middle School and was an odd duck then and now in believing in our society. I believe that our reaction to the world, and those who have less than we, is how we show our greatness. I went to a Catholic college although I am not a Catholic. The sisters were Benedictines and at the end of the robes and coif. They were participants in everything in life. Competent women, with scary energy, they taught us by example. The Benedictine rule says to treat each man (person) as if they were Christ himself at your door, to open and allow the hospitality of a heart to go forward by helping another. See, Sisters, I did listen. So that is what I do. I’m not a Christian, that part didn’t stick, but I got all of the really important parts. That’s what makes me angry about this person’s blog.
He had no interest in doing something for others. He sat back and attacked those very children that I believe in with no background, no investigation, and was smug about it. He was more worried that I had sworn on his page ONCE, than he was concerned about the young of this country, who by the way, will run his retirement home and future medical care. He was lazy in approaching the matter of the right to be involved. He was lazy in throwing out a point of view without researching it, and he was lazy disregarding any point of view but his own. He offended me. I lost my temper. I swore and demanded that he was better than what he had written. At that point, I offended him and lost all pretense of being able to be fair and impartial, able to discuss and listen, and I was wrong.
I have a new friend who says if you go into a conversation with your mouth hanging open, you won’t learn anything. It took him an hour to condense his comments to that line. He’s a wise man. He thought before he spoke, synthesized what I said into what he understood, checked his clarity before he responded, and then he did respond. I should have acted more like that. I didn’t. I am a passionate woman about a lot of things. Sometimes I let that passion out to play and it doesn’t always play nicely with others. I’ll work on that. In the meantime, be aware that those young people (under 50) who are participating in the world right now are under my protection. I may not be much protection, but I’m there in the wings waiting to see if they need me. I’ll work on that think before I speak thing, I’m usually pretty quiet, but it will take time.
I guess that I believe in progress forward, a planet we can live on, policies that do not injure, and that we had better start participating before we blow each other up, again. So, Mr. Columnist, whom I shall not name, but will send this link to, you are right. I did blow up and hold you to my standard, not understanding what yours it, and yes, I did use one word that I should never have used. There is no excuse for my words that were written in hot white heat. I judged you. I annoyed you. I went over the top. Passion is no excuse for bad manners. So I apologize to you. I hope you will understand that you touched a nerve within my soul, but please understand that that was no reason for me reacting like I did.